Schools and learning

How the education system works

The Ethnic Minority and Traveller Achievement Service (EMTAS) works in partnership with parents and carers to make sure you understand how the education system operates in the UK and we encourage you to visit schools and ask any questions or share your concerns about your child’s education.

Early years

You can access early year places in childcare settings for babies and toddlers. 

Many primary schools have free nursery classes that your child can attend between the age of three and four.

Find out more about early years provision and how to find childcare.

Primary education – Key stage 1 and 2

All children must attend primary school between the ages of five to 11.

  • Key Stage 1 (Foundation Stage) – years 1 and 2
  • Key Stage 2 (Juniors) – years 3, 4, 5 and 6.

Sometimes primary schools operate mix-aged classes. For example the classes for years 3 and 4 may be merged. This does not mean that children miss a year or repeat a year. Teachers will tailor the work to meet the needs of the pupils in their class.

Teachers assess pupils at regular intervals throughout the year, with more detailed tests at the end of Key Stage 1 and 2. You will receive reports about your child’s progress at least once a year. At the end of Key Stage 2 (year 6, aged 10-11), your child will take tests known as SATs and then move on to secondary education. 

Secondary education – Key stage 3 and 4

At the end of year 6, aged 10-11, your child will transfer to secondary school where they will move up automatically each year. Pupils will be assessed by teachers and take tests to monitor their progress. At the end of year 11 (aged 16) pupils sit important exams called GCSEs.  Pupils may choose to leave school after these exams, or continue to study for further exams to gain entry to college or university.

School admissions

You must apply for your child’s school place when they are due to start primary and secondary school.  You can find further information about this process in the school admissions section.

Don’t understand the school admissions process?

If you find it difficult to understand the school admissions process, or would like further advice on applying for your child’s school place, please contact the Choice Advice Service on 225 6030 who will provide support and information.

Further information 

If you would like more information on what EMTAS can do for you, please contact us.